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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Havana less than my heaven

Ok. It's taken me a week to get around to this. KitchenSlut has been so slack on posts in the last year but was out with a group at the Havana Music Cafe on Lake St a week or so ago, a Friday night. Now, it's not easy when a place provides something much needed in Cairns, both in diversity of tropical cuisine and entertainment, but just didn't quite meet my expectations.

Havana is worthwhile and the casual open format to the street welcome  but ...  the 'Trinni' (?) prawn curry dish I ordered, in a rich coconut and yoghurt gravy w jasmine rice and salsa, was absent 'oomph'.  No, not just heat, but depth of flavour. The jasmine rice was dry and just needed to be better for something so simple. The Caribbean authenticity of the description as a Trini(dad) may also be debatable?

That is not to say they dont try, and KS was later engaged in discussion at the bar by the waitress on the 'oomphness' of the prawn curry. At least they are thinking! Maybe I just ordered the wrong food as everybody else on the table thought theirs was great? It certainly didn't match my previous most memorable Caribbean cuisine experience at Mr Jerk in London, but thats not what it's all about. It is a welcome ambience to the Cairns scene and the young guitar vocalist on the night, Adam Hynes, was excellent. Made the night!

It was reasonably busy on a Friday night with a few large tables and the service seemed rushed at times. While there a diner at a footpath table made a vocal intervention to staff at the bar requesting service.
It would be really good for Havana to thrive and stay alive, but next time I would like the food to just offer more to the experience. Given most feedback on Havana is positive I should go back and try it again soon and sample more widely from the menu.




chocolate traditions

The egg was adopted by Christians as an Easter symbol of rebirth for the resurrection of Jesus. Somewhere in the last few hundred years the egg became chocolate. Chocolate became an Easter tradition.

"Chocolate: tasty, addictive, sexy ... and good for you" says this posting at The Conversation.  Apparently it's the flavanoids that provide chocolates healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory  capabilities. It can even be good for cholesterol and blood pressure. However chocaholics should be wary of this comment:

"Many of the studies showing how wonderful cocoa-derived flavanoids are have used very large doses of these chemicals that could never be garnered by regular chocolate eaters (at least without significant detriment to their waistlines), making the applicability of such science problematic."

We have many local chocolateers, although I haven't a clue how they stack up on genuine quality?

Oh ..... and if you couldn't wait until Easter Sunday to assuage your chocolate cravings with your symbolic rebirth chocolate eggs, then go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass go! You need to suffer for your healthy addiction!





Friday, 22 April 2011

surcharge insanity?

A prominent commentator at the libertarian catallaxy files, who is eastering in Queensland, has posted under the heading "beautiful one day, closed the next". With an avalanche of public holidays now upon us this has drawn Kitchenslut's attention again to a little known quirk of our consumer law. A restaurant wanting to charge a public holiday surcharge is required by the ACCC to actually produce a separate menu with the new prices.

It is not enough to simply state on the menu, or tell the diner, that there is a 10% surcharge. Personally, I think this requirement is just a bit anal and unnecessary red tape and it's quite adequate to just properly inform of a 10% surcharge. That is not to make any comment at all on the appropriateness of surcharges and other issues raised at catallaxy on the regulated shopping and easter disruptions to Queensland life. I wonder how many Cairns restaurants will comply, or even surcharge, or indeed how many will be open on Good Friday and Anzac Day?

Those disruptions also extend to our anal liquor laws. No alcohol to be served unless with a meal on Good Friday, so just stay home and get sloshed instead. Kitchenslut has always been bemused by the alcohol restrictions on Anzac Day at the same time as they are swinging off the rafters down at the RSL.  These are the same liquor Nazi's who have banned two-up at the Red Beret on Anzac Day.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

preserved lemons


Kitchenslut is a keen supporter of local produce, but only if the product deserves it. We do ourselves no favours by supporting products because they are local rather than because they are good. Don't start KS on Gallo cheese which he regards as over-hyped and over-priced, and a visit to the Epicurian Gold cheese cool room is preferable any day!

It was only last year that KS really became acquainted with preserved lemons after a Club Relish night at The Edge featuring Suzanne Quintner. KS still suspects the secret ingredient in the famous 'best pasta ever' at Salsa Bar was preserved limes. It isn't really very technical just the lemons, juice, heaps of salt and time. 

Anyway, this week KS picked up some preserved lemons at Il Convivo from the local Spicez people. Brilliant stuff. Many of the more commercial varieties of preserved lemons are diluted with water rather than the pure lemon juice in the Spicez product. The juice is deliciously syrupy!

KS has tonight enjoyed a tiger prawn linguine enhanced with Spicez preserved lemons cooked up in conjunction with the pasta fiend English Rose who also shared that 'best pasta ever' at Salsa! Disregard the basic packaging and buy!

Preserved lemon recipes: here, and here.

  

Friday, 15 April 2011

Unforgettable Food

ABC Far North is calling for people to email submissions of unforgettable food recipes.

"We're calling it Unforgettable Food and the aim is to share the tale behind your tucker. It's about showing the relationship you have with someone, a moment in time or a place through food."

Kitchenslut would consider submitting his world famous seafood bbq, with his skills recently fine tuned at the excellent Sydney Seafood School, but this is more a process than a recipe as such.

club food revolution

No, it's not in Cairns, at least not as far as I know. This week the Courier-Mail reported on changes in food offerings in Brisbane's clubs.

"SEARED scallops with dill and vanilla bean beurre blanc, in-house hickory and tea-smoked duck, eye fillet served with a blue cheese potato puree. It may sound like an upmarket city restaurant but these dishes are part of a degustation menu being served up at the Geebung RSL".

Interesting food at reasonable prices. Not sure i'm aware of anywhere in Cairns that stands out in a similar way in either this category or 'pub food'? It's all progress down south with Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food also opening it's first Australian centre recently at Ipswich.

Monday, 11 April 2011

aussie handmade toasting fork?

Traffic through Kitchenslut can be volatile  but always more interesting than the volume is the detail. Most recently is a visitor on the google search "aussie handmade toasting fork". Yes, Kitchenslut actually appears on page 2 of this search and feels deep satisfaction for his contribution to promoting the local economy with subsequent flight bookings surely assured?!

Oh, and yes handmade toasting forks have indeed been featured here a while ago now by the Estimable Essence toasting away over an Undara fire. Outback Country Rock and Blues is on again this weekend. Essence will provide a free demo of her patented handmade toasting fork to anyone who mentions this blog.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Cocoa Nomour?

Cocoa Amour in Grafton St was closed today, and KS has been told the Esplanade shop also didn't open?

Has the explosion of coffee shops begun to reach market saturation? CoffeeWorks will be opening a CBD outlet in Spence St next week with the sexy bright purple signage already in place!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Kanpai - without the karaoke thanks

Kitchenslut has in the past been wary of Kanpai because of their promotion as a karaoke venue! As a general rule karaoke and good food should not be mixed in Kitchenslut's view. However there has previously been positive feedback on Kanpai and when it was suggested as a pre-theatre venue with the prestige of two (2) female accomplices all to himself how could anyone refuse?

Accomplice A, a regular diner, did the selecting with aplomb and a diverse selection including salmon sashimi, seafood and vegetable tempura, eel on cucumber, Tuna Natto - fermented soy beans with tuna & Agadashi tofu - benito flakes & special sauce. Not to forget the mentai rice bowl!

An impressively diverse selection of tastes and flavours. We got out at less than $100 between three including a drink each and ...... even made to the theatre on time easily ...... a very rare experience when seeking a decent pre-theatre dining experince in Cairns! So good to be able to look forward to a return visit!

P.S. Little Theatre fringe was also excellent night and exceptional value at $10 at the door and deserve congratulations!



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